As countries go, Slovenia is a fairly sorry excuse for one, but she is celebrating her 25th birthday today. Hence the party, the flybys and salvos from the Castle hill, if you happened to be in downtown Ljubljana yesterday evening. And yes, despite putting on a brave face and some jovial attempts at ad-libbing it, President Pahor did not, could not avoid mentioning Brexit. He even shared some of his personal views on post-Brexit Europe.
Schlager-singer Magnifico commenting on Brexit (source)
Let’s ignore the fact that a state function on what is basically our Independence Day is usually a carefully choreographed event with few surprises. Especially surprises such as the Prez going off-script. But Pahor didn’t really go off-script. He merely elaborated on a position he floated a few days ago, namely that a deeper and a more connected EU is needed, up to the point of creating the United States of Europe and confirming the integration on a referendum. Yes, you read that right. While Nigel Farage is probably still working off a mother of a hangover, an EU leader is already mentioning another referendum.
With this, Pahor joined Marine Le Pen, Geert Wilders, Gerry Adams and Nicola Sturgeon in poking around the charred remains of the UK EU membership. Granted, he did it in a different context with a radically different message, but it all reeked more of just wanting to stir the pot rather than carve a reasonable path forward. Not in the least because PM Cerar and FM Erjavec (the other two people in this country with carte blanche to conduct foreign policy) gave slightly more muted responses to the referendum result which – on the other hand – were much more in line with the response of the EU leadership.
To put it another way: if you want to observe a politician putting himself in an untenable position, reducing his own room for manoeuvre and needlessly running out of options, you can either look at Borut Pahor or at David Cameron. No difference in this case. Well, apart from the fact that unlike Borut, Dave already has to start packing.
In all honesty, the Brexit meltdown was quite spectacular. And I don’t mean just the fact that the stock indices and sterling exchange rate at some point looked like the Cliffs of Dover. Pengovsky is more befuddled by the fact that a politician at the top of his game, who against all odds won a decisive electoral victory only a year ago and was arguably the main honcho of a country no-one could afford to ignore, performed an act of political suicide in full view of the public.
Make no mistake. Brexit was entirely avoidable. It was an unnecessary, uninformed and an unfair vote.
Unnecessary, because it was called as a political calculation to stop a brewing civil war within the Tory party.
Uniformed, because Leave support was strongest in areas which get the highest EU subsidies in the UK and in age groups which have hugely benefited from the economic and social stability the European project brought to the continent.
This is not what the public voted for. Although one might be persuaded to ask what the fuck they were voting for since the most-searched query on Google in the UK the day after the referendum was What is the EU.
That is not to say that grievances against the EU aren’t real or that people who voted to leave had no reason to do so. Indeed, it seems that the Leave vote was strongest with those who took the brunt of the economic and financial crisis, a fact Jeremy Corbyn was angling to exploit while still campaigning for Remain. And now he may well find himself out of a job, too. Just like Cameron. Not that anyone will cry over those two, but it’s kind of hard to get over that sinking feeling that the whole clusterfuck happened because there were too many twats at the grown-ups’ table. And now the EU is reeling from yet another kick in the gut, the UK is bursting at the seams and German diplomats are forced to have a sense of humour.
As for the Balkans, the parallels of WWII are all too vivid. Which is probably why Magnifico took this wartime squeeze-hit and remade it.
Well, that’s that, then. See you in thirty-odd years, Brits. Just don’t forget that Normandy is a bitch to land on. The only upside to this sorry mess is the fact that Nigel Farage never again gets to run for the European Parliament.